Blog Post

The Big Donation Distribution Problem You Don’t Know About

September 25, 2023
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At Groundswell, we are passionate about challenging the status quo, and one industry standard that we’ve set our sights on is the unconscionable donation distribution delays normalized by legacy platforms like Benevity, Cybergrants, and YourCause. These companies, which currently service the majority of Fortune 500 companies, routinely take 30-60 days to send a donor’s donation to charity, and 90-180 days to send a company’s matching gift.

We believe that this is wrong. So we’ve fixed it.

Groundswell is the fastest employee giving platform, sending both the employee's donation and the company's match together within 5 days.

Why do distribution timelines matter?

In this blog post I’m going to share with you why this is so powerful. But first, let me tell you why this is personal.

From 2010 through 2020 I served as the founder and CEO of the global humanitarian relief organization Team Rubicon (TR). TR responds to hundreds of disasters and crises each year, each mission carefully planned. One critical planning factor is fundraising - how much will the organization be able to successfully raise in the immediate onset of this event? The first 96 hours of an event are the most telling, as individual donations begin pouring in and corporations begin calling to make pledges. Using these early signals, a budget is prepared and a mission is launched.

Now fast-forward four months. A literal mountain of paper checks begin arriving, representing the matching donations that have finally been invoiced, collected, aggregated, and distributed to us by Benevity, Cybergrants, and YourCause. However, more often than not the mission was already over - and the money now unable to be spent effectively.

Don’t get me wrong - a nonprofit is never going to complain about donations coming in. But having not known that these checks were coming, they were not included in the original budgeting. This created massive headaches for our staff, but more importantly, represented a missed opportunity to have delivered more impact during the response phase.

When I started Groundswell, this was one very real problem that I set out to solve.

Why does it take so long for legacy platforms to distribute donations?

There are several things that lead to these distribution delays, the primary of which is these platform’s process of distributing donations in aggregated batches. That process looks like this:

  1. Employee 1 makes a $10 donation to a Charity X on September 1st, Employee 2 makes a $15 donation to Charity X on September 10th, and Employee 3 makes a $25 donation to Charity X on September 30th.
  2. In October, the legacy platform combines all donations designated for Charity X in September into a single amount - in this instance $50 ($10 + $15 + $25)
  3. On or around October 15th, $50 is sent to Charity X - often via a paper check

In this process, Employee 1’s donation does not reach the charity for at least 45 days. Worse yet, many platforms have a minimum donation threshold, which means that the platform will not process the distribution until a minimum amount has been designated for the charity. This often means that a donor’s money can sit as a pending payment for months or even years, until additional donors make enough donations to reach the threshold.

The process gets even more convoluted when there’s a corporate donation match involved. That process looks like this:

  1. Let’s assume Employees 1 and 2 in the above scenario work for Acme Corporate, while Employee 3 works for XYZ Corp. Acme Corp and XYZ Corp both offer employee donation matches.
  2. Following their respective September donations, the legacy platform will send both Acme Corp and XYZ Corp an invoice for the match amount owed by each company, $25 and $25 respectively in this example. This invoice is sent in late October for September’s donations.
  3. Both companies receive and review the invoice. Reconciling the invoice takes 1-2 weeks.
  4. Upon approval, administrators at both companies forward the invoice to accounts payable for payment. Acme Corp has net-30 payment terms and sends the legacy platform $25 in late November. XYZ Corp has net-60 payment terms, so does not send its $25 until late December.
  5. The platform receives all funds in late December and processes payment of the matching donations to Charity X in January.

This example clearly lays out how an employee that made a donation on September 1st may not have her matching donation reach the charity for five months! This process erodes the employee experience, creates unnecessary administrative tasks for company administrators, and delays critical cash flow for nonprofits.

How has Groundswell upended this process to make distributions in 5 days?

Groundswell’s commitment to social impact drives everything we do. Thus, we set out to set a new standard in donation distribution timelines. The result is that we:

  • Instantly match an employee’s donation
  • Send both the employee’s donation and the company match together within 5 days
  • No longer aggregate these payments together, but instead send them individually

Now we have improved the employee experience, eliminated the administrative burden on companies, and improved the nonprofit’s cash flow.

But we’re not done. The only reason we’re waiting five days to distribute instead of sending the funds within 24 hours is because donors occasionally initiate credit card or ACH reversals, and it’s challenging to resolve these if we’ve already sent the funds to charity. However, we’re committed to examining the data over the coming months to determine what our reversal rate is, and whether we’re able to further reduce this timeline accordingly.

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Unlocking Philanthropy: A Ready-to-Use Corporate Giving Policy for Modern Businesses

Sample Corporate Giving Policy You Can Use Today

In today’s socially conscious environment, more companies than ever are recognizing the value of corporate philanthropy. Not only can a robust giving policy boost a brand’s image and reputation, but it can also play a pivotal role in community development and global betterment. If your company is considering the establishment of a formal corporate giving policy or refining its existing strategy, this sample policy might be the perfect starting point for you.

Download Sample Policy

Pillars of a Strong Corporate Giving Policy

Corporate giving programs range from employer donation matching programs to full blown corporate social responsibility programs with grantmaking and volunteerism.  Many companies find somewhere in the middle that aligns with their size, budget, geographic presence and most importantly company values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. But what truly makes a corporate giving policy stand out? Let’s delve into the key features, from donation matching to the strategic use of platforms like Groundswell.

1. Donation Matching: Doubling the Impact

One of the most effective tools in a giving policy is donation matching. This is where companies match employee donations to eligible non-profits, effectively doubling the contribution. Such programs not only amplify the impact but also motivate employees to participate, knowing their chosen cause will receive twice the support.

2. Charitable Stipends: Encouraging Employee Choice

Charitable stipends are allowances given to employees to donate to a non-profit of their choice. This not only encourages a culture of giving but also empowers employees to support causes they’re passionate about. The stipends can be a fixed amount annually or can vary based on the employee’s role or tenure.

3. Dollars for Doers: Volunteering Translated to Contributions

“Dollars for Doers” programs convert volunteer hours into monetary donations. When employees volunteer their time for a cause, the company makes a donation equivalent to the hours spent. This fosters a culture of hands-on involvement and ensures that both time and money are being donated to valuable initiatives.

4. Corporate Grants: Sowing Seeds for Bigger Change

Beyond individual employee contributions, companies can set aside a dedicated fund for corporate grants. These grants can be given to non-profits, research initiatives, or community projects that align with the company’s CSR objectives. Such grants can lead to substantial, long-term changes and foster strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

Why Choose Groundswell for Your Giving Initiatives?

Incorporating these elements into a giving policy requires streamlined management, transparency, and ease of execution. This is where platforms like Groundswell come into the picture.

Groundswell offers an efficient and affordable solution for companies aiming to elevate their philanthropic endeavors. Here’s why it’s the ideal choice:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Groundswell’s platform is designed for both companies and employees, ensuring smooth navigation and straightforward donation processes.
  • Versatility: Whether it’s donation matching, handling charitable stipends, or managing corporate grants, Groundswell offers solutions tailored to each company’s unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Groundswell provides a comprehensive suite of tools at competitive prices, ensuring that more of your money goes towards the cause rather than platform fees.
  • Transparency: Track donations, monitor employee involvement, and generate detailed reports to measure the impact—all in one place.

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An effective corporate giving policy is a blend of structure, employee engagement, and impactful contributions. By incorporating elements like donation matching, charitable stipends, “Dollars for Doers,” and corporate grants, businesses can create a ripple effect of positive change. And with platforms like Groundswell, executing these initiatives becomes not just feasible but also highly efficient and cost-effective.

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5 Tips to Boost Engagement & Impact on Giving Tuesday

Leverage GivingTuesday to boost generosity

Every November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as GivingTuesday, which often serves as the unofficial start of end-of-year giving campaigns. This comes on the heels of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions to lean into the end-of-year holiday spirit with generosity and compassion. For many charities, GivingTuesday has become their biggest day for donations – and can help resource their ability to have an even greater impact in the year ahead.

For companies, GivingTuesday and the end-of-year giving season offers an opportunity to double down on their commitment to social responsibility, strengthen relationships with employees, and boost their impact in the community and broader world.

At Groundswell, we partner with companies all across the country to design and launch GivingTuesday campaigns – leveraging our easy-to-use platform that makes it easy for employees to participate and send donations to the causes and charities that they care most about. Below are some best practices to boost engagement and inspire generosity during the giving season.

1. Make Giving Easy:

A lot of giving platforms out there make it incredibly hard to donate. Some don’t have all 1.5 million IRS-approved charities listed. Others require employees to navigate through a web of intranet or sharepoint sites to find the giving program landing page. And others require that HR is notified of any donations an employee wants to make. At Groundswell – we are committed to removing all of the friction, and ensuring that employees can find charities easily, through a platform that is accessible from the palm of their hand, so they can give whenever they want to.

2. Launch a GivingTuesday Match Campaign:

Through Groundswell you can customize and launch a special GivingTuesday match campaign in a matter of minutes. Simply pick the nonprofits to include in the special campaign, select the start and end-date for the campaign, and then determine the match – 2x, 3x – along with any overall budget limits, then you’re done!

3. Boost engagement by involving ERGs:

Share nonprofit recommendations from Employee Resource Groups to provide inspiration around causes and nonprofits that matter to your employees. You can feature these nonprofits on dedicated ERG Corporate Spotlights and Campaigns that will be visible to all employees on their Groundswell dashboard.

4. Surprise (and Delight) Employees With A Gift to Give:

Consider sending a surprise “gift to give” to reward those already participating in your giving program (and to incentivize others to enroll). These gifts might be used to further maximize impact through the existing campaign, or to donate to other nonprofits your employees care about. Groundswell’s custom gift feature allows companies to easily schedule and send gifts with little to no administrative burden.

5. Level up with Volunteer Matching:

Groundswell’s Volunteer Matching program – sometimes known as Dollars for Doers – recognizes that some employees may not have funds to contribute, but have time – and rewards them in the same way. It’s an inclusive approach that invites everyone to participate in GivingTuesday, even those who may not be able to donate their own funds.

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12 Employee Benefits Survey Questions Modern Companies Should Ask

In today's business environment, having the right and highest performing talent is more critical than ever. With benefits packages playing a vital role in these decisions, how can companies truly gauge their effectiveness? By initiating regular employee benefits surveys.

Scroll down for a free survey template below.

Let's dive in to the importance of asking the following questions.

Is our workforce satisfied with the current employee benefits package?

Gaining insights from "how satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?" can offer companies a quick pulse on the effectiveness of their benefits. A dip in satisfaction might signal a need for re-evaluation, especially if you're looking to maximize your budget.

How comprehensive are the employee benefits we offer?

Do employees feel that the organization covers a wide range of their needs? Asking, "do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?" can shed light on any potential gaps in coverage.

Are we showing true commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion through our benefits?

Are the company's efforts in promoting DE&I resonating? This can be gauged by asking if the benefits genuinely support diversity and inclusion. If they aren't, here's an opportunity to collect ideas directly from your employees.

Read more about how to make sure your giving program is equitable and inclusive.

Do our benefits reflect our company culture and values?

The question, "do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?" will highlight any potential discrepancies in practicing what you're preaching.

Did you know? Two-thirds of employees say it’s important for a company to align to their values.

Are we catering to the needs of a remote or multi-location workforce?

With remote work on the rise, is the company adapting its benefits accordingly? It's essential to find out if employees feel supported, regardless of their work setting.

Would employees recommend the company based on our benefits?

This is an easy one to skip, but it's a great question to ask. See how influential your benefits package is for employee referrals. Determining if employees would advocate for the company based on its benefits can be a key metric for recruitment.

How do specific benefit categories fare?

By querying satisfaction levels across various benefits – physical health, social impact, mental health, financial health, and fringe benefits – can companies discern which areas are thriving and which need enhancement?

What additional benefits do employees desire?

Is there a particular benefit that could make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention? Discovering this can be as straightforward as asking, "if you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?"

If your workforce desires a more meaningful benefit, see why decentralizing your corporate philanthropy strategy can achieve greater impact at scale.

How often should I send an employee survey about our benefits?

While every business has their own set of unique needs, conducing a quarterly employee survey at minimum can help you get a pulse check.

There will be some natural and unplanned peaks in valleys throughout the year that can drastically affect employee morale and company culture. By proactively seeking feedback through surveys, companies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring they remain at the forefront of employee satisfaction.

What are some affordable benefit options we can provide employees?

Corporate matching or giving programs can be a low-cost addition to your benefit offering that supports your employees’ unique passions and perspectives through charitable giving and boosts your company’s commitment to social impact.  Groundswell offers a comprehensive solution with a simple implementation and nearly zero administration burden.

[Free Template] Employee Benefits Survey Questions

  1. How satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?
  2. Do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?
  3. Do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?
  4. Do you feel our benefits package supports our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion?
  5. Do you feel our benefits package supports our remote or multi-location workforce?
  6. How likely are you to recommend applying based on our benefits package?
  7. How satisfied are you with our physical health benefits (i.e. health care, sick leave, etc)?
  8. How satisfied are you with our social impact benefits (i.e. corporate matching, volunteering, etc)?
  9. How satisfied are you with our mental health benefits (i.e. vacation time, EAP, etc)?
  10. How satisfied are you with our financial health benefits? (i.e. retirement, student loan assistance, etc)
  11. How satisfied are you with our fringe benefits and perks? (i.e. fitness subsidies, stipends, etc)
  12. If you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?
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